Last year I started a series of posts to take on the subject of how to work with a tight budget and still consume real healthy food. I’m back in the New Year (finally) to share more of how I manage my food budget to ensure we are eating real, nutrient dense, whole foods. Not to mention, with food restrictions (more on that in a future post). I wrote a post awhile back about ‘Why I Don’t Clip Coupons‘, a common practice for those with tight budgets. Since I don’t use coupons but work to manipulate my own circumstances it can be a bit more of a tricky game, but definitely worth it. Do we think that back in the hunting/gathering days it was easy? Or even agricultural days before industrialization, was it easy to find food and preserve it? Maybe it is getting ‘easier’ with advanced technology in some ways, but I personally think it’s becoming harder to avoid the so called food that is actually very detrimental to our health, both personally and collectively as a nation.
My goal with this post today is simply to encourage others to think strategically when planning the food budget and the menu. And yes, I said planning. You simply MUST plan if you want to stay in a tight food budget. You will also need to utilize everything you buy, so buy smart, buy foods that serve several purpose. The best thing you can do is to create a savings plan for bulk meat purchases. If you don’t have extra money in the budget for that now, cut your food budget back by a small chunk of money and start saving for a side of beef. Once you get your first side of beef you will save SO much money on your food budget and can then save for either another side of meat or start to build your stockpile with other items.
Thanks to my stockpile, I only spent $30 at the store today to supplement what I already had on hand to make meals for my family. Granted, the boys will be eating lunch at school this week (I hate to admit, but it’s a really tight week for us and the school lunches for us are currently free), when I have more room in the budget I do buy food for their lunches and try to do it the majority of the time (even though we get the lunches free, it’s important to me to get real whole foods into my boys). The boys will eat 2 dinners and 1 breakfast with their dad this week. So, I will be feeding my boys all 6 breakfasts, 5 dinners, 2 lunches for 3 of the boys, 6 lunches for my 5 year old and all of my own meals obviously. (Hope that’s not too confusing.) If I didn’t have a stockpile, I would not have been able to afford to feed my family this week. Thus the importance of working to build the stockpile in the first place. I can’t tell you how to manage saving for your stockpile because everyone’s situation will be different. However if you determine to do it, you WILL find a way. I hope to give you some ideas by sharing how I do it.
I stockpile differently in each season. In the summer through early fall, I take advantage of cheap abundant fresh produce. Currently, I am just about out of my stockpile of produce from this past summer/fall. I wasn’t able to stock much, but what I did really helped. In the late fall I bought a 1/4 cow with my boyfriend to share. I still have several steaks and roasts left, organs, bones and a big bag of suet I plan on rendering this week since I’m almost out of lard. In the winter I stock up on very little, can’s of pumpkin, olives, fish and try to make sure I have plenty of fats in the pantry. I take advantage of sales both in the stores and online. (I like Tropical Traditions for many things, namely coconut products and just got a membership for Green Polka Dot Box as well that I will be using much more soon). In the spring, I’ll purchase more meat. I’m currently saving for a half hog and side of beef. If I can find a farmer that will sell me a lamb, I’ll do that too. When I buy meat in bulk like this, it lowers the price per pound compared to what I can get in the store and saves me a TON of money in the long run. That’s why it’s so important to find a way to buy meat in bulk to begin with. Around here grass fed ground beef is about $5-6 per pound. When I buy a side, the ground beef is less than $4 per pound ($3.55 I believe). Add that savings up when you use 2-3 pounds of beef per week or more and you can easily buy some meat in bulk. Not to mention, you get all the bones, fat, organs and lots of roasts and using those cuts helps to make your budget go even further. Your protein sources will be the most expensive part of your food budget. They are also non-negotiable if you want to be optimally healthy. That’s why buying in bulk is absolutely critical.
Today, I spent $30 on mostly produce to fill in the gaps of my menu. I also bought some cans of salmon just in case I need another protein source for a meal, likely a lunch. I spent $7.50 on the salmon and I can get two meals out of that. That item may end up as a stockpile item, we’ll see. So you see, even though I didn’t have much to spend and didn’t buy much, I still got something towards my stockpile. I could have bought more fruit or veggies for us to eat this week, but I realized I have enough to work with that I can stretch things pretty well. Even if your budget is already tight, it’s possible to build your food ‘savings’ so to speak. I suppose those of you who understand finance/budgeting in other areas can understand what I’m saying. I like to have ‘food equity’, so I’m willing to include that in my weekly spending. Make sense?
What are your tips on working with or towards a stockpile? Share in the comments……